Metro Lutheran Ministries (MLM) Receives $18,750 Grant from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Foundation

Metro Lutheran Ministries (MLM) recently received a grant for $18,750 from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Foundation to support the Family Empowerment program.

Metro Lutheran Ministry will use the funds from Community America Credit Union Foundation to support its Family Empowerment program. Financial literacy is a key component of this program providing initial stabilization of two months of direct weekly financial literacy instruction leading into ten months of working side-by-side with clients as they learn how to integrate what they have learned into their life. This program was implemented in July 2014 to provide twelve month intensive case management to families helping them become stable in the short term and truly self-sufficient in the long-term. This funding would be used to support the expansion of this program from Kansas City, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas.

The Family Empowerment program provides intensive case management to clients helping them achieve short-term stabilization and financial literacy and long-term financial success and independence.  Assistance with financial stability starts by assessing the families’ expenses, debts, credit rating, employment, and income resources. Case managers help clients develop a budget which prioritizes food, shelter, and transportation to and from work. Eligible families are given assistance in applying for benefits. Employment assistance includes job readiness classes, resume and interview preparation, strategic assessment of appropriate positions, online application assistance, and job search tracking.  Housing stability includes providing financial assistance with past due utility and housing bills if the household is in imminent danger of disconnection, if their utilities have already been shut off, or if they have received an eviction notice. It might also include finding housing where families aren’t living in a shelter or doubled-up with another family.  After the family has basic stability, they receive support and coaching throughout the year on financial literacy and household skills. These skills help clients stop living from crisis to crisis. Clients participate in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class. Financial expert volunteers provide monthly high quality objective advice to the case managers based upon each client’s unique financial situation. Clients are taught how to use the conventional banking system, including opening a bank account. Clients are coached on reducing debts, setting goals to save for emergencies, and how to repair their credit rating.  Case managers help clients develop goals for housing stability including locating safe locations where families can develop relationships with their neighborhood and schools. It includes finding housing which is financially sustainable on the income the family is earning while being a safe place to live. Wraparound services are provided to help clients spend less money on utilities, home repairs, and food, leaving money available for savings, debt reduction, and asset building. Clients are taught how to conduct their own maintenance and basic weatherization on their homes to reduce their utility bills. Clients learn how to grocery shop on a budget and how to cook healthy meals.

Like many of MLM’s programs, the Family Empowerment program serves households who begin the program with incomes from zero to 1.5 times the federal poverty guideline in Wyandotte County and Jackson County. All of the clients have children in either the Kansas City, Missouri School District or the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. Many of the clients come to the program with unemployment, low wages, poor healthcare, or domestic violence issues.